North Korea: New long-range missile can carry heavy nuke


Amid condemnation in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington, a jubilant North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised more nuclear and missile tests and warned his country's weapons could strike the USA mainland and Pacific holdings.

Moon, who predicated his campaign on engaging, not isolating Pyongyang, now must react to North Korean claims that the intermediate-range ballistic missile can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.

Why does this test matter?

The so-called Hwasong-12 was described by North Korean state media as a "medium to long range ballistic rocket".

"A 30 minute flight time would instead require a missile that was highly lofted", he said in an emailed statement, adding it may have been one of the new missiles displayed in North Korea's massive military parade on April 15.

South Korea's President Moon has said that, for the sake of peace, he is willing to visit Washington, Beijing, Tokyo and even North Korea if conditions allow.

The missile flew for half an hour and reached an unusually high altitude before landing in the Sea of Japan, the South Korean, Japanese and USA militaries said.

This range is considerably longer than the estimated range of the Musudan missile, which showed a range of about 3,000 km in a test past year. But Tong Zhao, an analyst with the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, said Sunday's test may give Pyongyang "a regional nuclear deterrence" option, meaning it might no longer need to pursue a weapon to reach as far as the U.S. mainland.

On May 14 (May 13 EDT in the U.S.), the DPRK did a new - and successful - launch of a ballistic missile.

But Melissa Hanham, senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California, said the test could just as easily be a stepping stone to a longer-range weapon.

"The members of the Security Council agreed that the Security Council would continue to closely monitor the situation and take further significant measures including sanctions, in line with the Council's previously expressed determination", the Security Council said.

Describing the missile launch as a "grave provocative act that damages the peace and security of the region and the global community", Inada relayed to her counterpart Japan's intention to beef up its cooperation with the new South Korean government under President Moon Jae In.

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What has North Korea been saying?

The Security Council has adopted six increasingly tougher sanctions resolutions against North Korea.

North Korea, which has a history of conducting provocations in a bid to boost its leverage, has agreed in the past to suspend its nuclear program in exchange for aid and diplomatic rewards.

There are doubts whether the North can miniaturise a nuclear weapon sufficiently to fit it onto a missile nose cone, and no proof it has mastered the re-entry technology needed to ensure it survives returning into Earth's atmosphere. North Korea on Monday, May 1.

Although the claims remain unverified, it is known that the secretive communist regime test fired a rocket, which traveled over seven hundred kilometres before crashing into the sea of Japan.

USA officials reported that the missile landed 60 miles from the Russian city of Vladivostok.

The White House issued an unusual statement that said Sunday's missile landed closer to Russian Federation than Japan.

It cited Kim as saying the North would never succumb to what it called the "highly ridiculous" United States strategy of "militarily browbeating only weak countries and nations which have no nukes". But he warned against "intimidating" Pyongyang.

The North has made no secret of its quest to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States - something President Donald Trump has vowed "won't happen".

North Korea previously launched a ballistic missile from Kusong in February. The distance to Hawaii, headquarters for US military operations in the Pacific, is 7,400 km.

What will the USA do?

Following Sunday's test, the United States called for repercussions from the worldwide community.

Trump has advocated for a diplomatic solution to the uptick in North Korean aggravations, but he said last month that he would not rule out a major conflict with North Korea.